Snowbank Trail is a 24 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Orr, MN that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Head east out of Ely, MN on Hwy 169. Follow Hwy 169/Fernberg Rd to Snowbank Lake Rd. Head left of Snowbank Lake Rd several miles to the trailhead on the left side of the road just short of the lake. (About 23 total miles out of Ely)
Check the local postings about this one! There was a windstorm in July, and this trail is not yet fully clear. We hiked as far as we could (probably only about 2 miles in and back round trip) since we were there. This and the other nearby trail are not well groomed--we could tell the the often narrow trail isn't heavily used. We wouldn't recommend it in low light even when clear of the tree debris. We will try again, though, when the downed trees are removed and hopefully augment our review! Gorgeous area.
Awesome trip. A challenging trail with a lot of ups and downs, but gorgeous scenery and very peaceful. I plan on coming back and doing it again with the Disappointment loop next time.
The map of the trail is a least 10 years old and does not come out on the Fernberg Road. I was through there in 2005 and at that time the trail headed south from the parking lot south of Snowbank Lake. If you are going to charge for this serice you should stay current with your maps.
The trail is great and I'm going there in a week. I've hiked it about 6 times and I enjoy it every time.
Combined this loop with portions of the Disappointment Lake loop to the east for a 27 mile 3-day remote and challenging backpacking trip with a couple companions. Again, the trail is beautiful, especially the northern and north-eastern portions with great overlooks of Snowbank Lake from high granite ridges. However, since I was here 4 years ago, the trail has become much more overgrown (whether due to a very wet spring this year, or lack of maintenance, I don't know), making navigation difficult and unclear at times, and footing somewhat treacherous (being often unable to see your footfalls). The portions on the Kekekabic and Disappointment trails were not nearly so overgrown. The water level was high, making most beaver dam and creek crossings challenging and many places mucky. Still well worth doing if you like a challenging and remote hike in the BWCA area (we didn't see another body the whole trip).
A great loop hike around Snowbank Lake in the BWCA. The trail is mostly wooded, both old growth and newer clearcut scrub, and can be challenging navigation at times, crossing creeks, beaver damns, and bare granite ridges where cairns are absolutely necessary. Signage is minimal. The high ridges give great views of the lake. Camping sites are spread out but in great shape with fire grates, pit toilets and most with great views of and easy access to the lake for water. Traffic is non-existant due to remote location, but Snowbank is one of the few motorized lakes in the BWCA, so an occasional boat motor is heard.